Maine court dismisses do-not-resuscitate appeal

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The state supreme court has dismissed a mother's appeal of a court-approved do-not-resuscitate decision for her brain-damaged baby, saying the matter is moot now that the state has agreed to abide by the mother's wishes.

The child welfare agency that won a judge's approval to make medical decisions on behalf of the infant announced last week that it would defer to the wishes of the teenage mother.

On Friday, a supreme court spokesman said the mother's appeal was "dismissed as moot."

The mother's attorney, Scott Hess, said he'd hoped the Maine Supreme Judicial Court would weigh in on whether the state violated the mother's constitutional rights by seeking and winning a state judge's approval to make life-or-death medical decisions for a child who is in temporary state custody.

"It is disappointing that the mother will not have the opportunity to have the case decided on the legal merits, but we of course respect the decision by the law court," he said Friday.

The baby suffered severe brain injuries in December when she was shaken by her father, who is awaiting trial, state officials said. The baby cannot see or hear, must be fed through a tube and suffers severe ongoing health problems.

The 18-year-old mother, Virginia Trask, originally agreed to a DNR order but changed her mind after the baby began breathing after being removed from life support and placed in her arms.

The state judge who gave child welfare officials the authority to make medical decisions found that "neither parent can be counted on to be physically or emotionally available to make the necessary informed decision when needed."

Gov. Paul LePage and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services intervened when the matter became public. For now, the injured baby remains in foster care, and Trask retains visitation rights.

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